Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
~1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
If you are seeking to lead as a steward leader, then this verse from Thessalonians is a powerful reminder of a key biblical truth – you cannot steward tomorrow. Many of us who are trying to be faithful leaders get caught up in the games of ‘if-only’ and ‘when-then.’ They go like this.
If only we ______ , then we could _______. Fill in the blanks for yourself. If only we had more money, then we could… If only our board would step up to the plate then we could… If only we could hire the right person then we could… Leaders get caught up in living for what could be and miss the opportunity to be effective steward leaders of what is.
The other game is similar but even more debilitating. When we _______, then we will _______. Again you can fill in the blanks. When we get that big grant, then we will really be able to… When we raise enough funds, then we can … When Tom finally retires, then we will be free to…. Leaders who live for a ‘when-then’ future tend to de-value the present. That is, until the ‘when’ happens, everything is on hold. Leaders can put their entire ministry into near paralysis by this sense that what they need is still ‘out there’ waiting to be secured.
Steward leaders must take today seriously. Today is all we have been given and God expects us to invest it wisely and lavishly in kingdom work. The verse from Thessalonians tells us to rejoice always. That means today, this minute, right in the middle of the reality of this moment. Watch for the deceptive attitude that says, ‘When such and such happens, then I will rejoice.’
The verse also tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. ‘All’ means the very circumstances we are in today. It is the present situation cut loose from the ‘what ifs.’ It forces us to consider that the work of today, the situations we find ourselves in and the challenges we face are worthy of our thanksgiving to God. Finally, it tells us to pray continually. Again this is a reminder that we need God’s guidance moment by moment, for His gift to us in this day.
Have you missed opportunities to steward the work God gave you each day because you gave in to the distraction of ‘if only’ and ‘when-then’ thinking. We can hide behind the guise that we are being ‘visionary’, but in truth we are just escaping from the battle God calls us into each new morning.
My friend, God has given you all you need to be a faithful steward today. He has fulfilled His promises to you completely in this day and all He asks is that you acknowledge His provision through a leadership style replete with rejoicing, thanksgiving and prayer. Just as we are warned not to borrow the sorrow from tomorrow, so we must remember neither can we steward an ‘if-only’ and ‘when-then’ approach to leadership.
Today, right now, your life and ministry are ripe with opportunities. Don’t let the enemy steal them while you wait for a tomorrow that will never live up to its billing. Instead, proclaim with David, ‘this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ Psalm 118:24
Dr. R. Scott Rodin has been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing.
CLA members rank the annual CLA National Conference as the premier leadership training event. In 2015 the annual gathering will be known as The Outcomes Conference. CLA members receive a discounted rate to attend and exhibit at this conference.
Come and connect with the leading voices in Christian ministry, and select from 100 or more workshops and full-day ITI seminars on the key issues facing ministries today—on everything from executive leadership and HR best practices to fundraising, communications, board governance, financial management and more. Don’ miss CLA Dallas 2015 – The Outcomes Conference.